SEO Glossary / Keyword Stuffing

Keyword Stuffing

What is Keyword Stuffing?

Keyword stuffing refers to the excessive use of a target keyword in on-page content with the intention of ranking for that keyword. Google considers keyword stuffing as a spam technique and lists it in its spam policies.

Examples of keyword stuffing include:

  • Adding lists of phone numbers without added value.
  • Blocks of text listing cities and regions that a web page is trying to rank for.
  • Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural.

Keyword stuffing can also occur in anchor texts and URLs.

Keyword stuffing used to be effective in the past when search engines relied on simpler methods and algorithms to find relevant content. Today, keyword stuffing does not work well due to advancements in search engine algorithms.

Is Keyword Stuffing Important for SEO?

While keyword stuffing used to be effective when search engines relied on term frequency (see TF-IDF), today’s advanced search algorithms are much smarter and can detect when websites engage in keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing is now considered a spam factor and can lead to manual action penalties from Google. Google’s Panda update cracked down on pages with low-quality content, rendering keyword stuffing useless.

Is Keyword Stuffing a Ranking Factor?

Search engines no longer rely on term frequency to understand webpage content. Instead, they use advanced information analysis and retrieval systems that prioritize the quality of your content over how many times you repeat your keyword. In fact, keyword stuffing can harm your ranking, making it a spam factor rather than a ranking factor.

What to Do Instead of Keyword Stuffing?

1. Use Your Primary Keyword in Prominent Places on the Page

It’s still a good practice to use your primary keyword (or a close variant) in prominent places on your webpage, such as the page title, H1, and meta description.

2. Write Naturally

Write your content naturally, and your target keyword and its synonyms and variations will naturally be included. Fixating on your keyword and using it too many times can make your content difficult to read and won’t provide value to your readers. Google’s aim is to provide the best quality results to its users, so low-quality content won’t help your rankings.

3. Don’t Rely on Frequency Metrics

While many SEO writing tools provide recommendations on how many times a keyword should be used on a page based on keyword density, it’s unnecessary. With advancements in search engine algorithms, it’s possible for pages to rank for a keyword even if it isn’t mentioned on the page. Instead, focus on writing high-quality content that provides value to readers.

4. Leverage the Power of Secondary Keywords

Rather than repeating the same keyword or phrase, use synonyms, keyword variations, and long-tail keywords when creating content. Search engines understand the holistic content of a page and can rank pages for hundreds or even thousands of keywords. By focusing on providing value, your content will be set up to rank for multiple relevant queries.


How many times can I use a keyword before it’s considered keyword stuffing?

While there isn’t a defined number of keyword mentions that would flag your content as keyword stuffing, it’s important to use your keyword in moderation. Read through your content to ensure it sounds natural and try to use secondary keywords to prevent the appearance of keyword stuffing.

How does Google penalize for keyword stuffing?

Keyword stuffing violates Google's Spam policies and can lead to the webpage or site getting penalized. While Google may impose a manual action, most keyword stuffing is handled algorithmically. If the algorithm detects keyword stuffing, it’ll either downgrade the page in rankings or not list it at all.

For more details, visit Ranktracker's SEO Guide.